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Can Marketplace reach an audience beyond those who already care about explainer journalism?
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Oct. 7, 2014, 10:25 a.m.
LINK: www.startribune.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   October 7, 2014

Newspapers are in enough trouble — they don’t need the added hassle of readers sending their subscription money to some random scammer instead of the Circulation Department. But that’s apparently what’s happening in cities across the country.

The scam’s pretty simple: Send print newspaper subscribers what looks like an official bill for their newspaper subscription, and figure that some share of them will either send along a check or — perhaps being a little less web savvy than their peers — go to a totally professional looking website like United Publishers Exchange or Publishers Payment and hand over their credit card info.

newspaper-scam

It’s an age-old scam, but it’s popped up over the past few days in cities from San Antonio to San Diego to Minneapolis to Denver to Austin to St. Louis. (And many, many more. The Star Tribune reported 72 calls from subscribers regarding the scam — who knows how many just put their check in the mail?)

St. Louis’ alt-weekly Riverfront Times has a copy of what the scammers are sending, courtesy reader John Hoffmann:

renewalinvoice

Past versions of this scam date back many years, but these particular scammers have also been operating for a while — their web domains were registered in 2011, and there are examples of people complaining (some understanding it’s a scam, some not) back to 2012:

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